Trauma Informed Care
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma-informed care focuses on recognizing existing trauma symptoms and understanding the effect of trauma on a child’s life. For foster children, trauma frequently occurs when they are removed from their biological families due to abuse and/or neglect, or have witnessed a traumatic event. Experiences like this can cause the child to feel betrayed and insecure, often leading to Child Traumatic Stress and intense emotional reactions to events that remind them of past traumatic experiences. Emotional reactions may appear as rage, isolation, guilt and shame, and have a significant impact on all the child’s relationships. This can leave a child feeling helpless, confused, and unable to effectively cope with what he or she has experienced. With knowledge and understanding healing is possible, which is why we believe trauma-informed care training is so important for foster parents.
Trauma-Informed Care Training
Parents dealing with a child’s trauma without proper tools and understanding can experience “compassion fatigue” – feeling numb, burned out, and unable to handle one more child’s sadness and distress.
Experts in the field agree that with greater understanding through trauma–informed education programs and systems for parents, a wide range of behavioral and social problems will be lessened for generations to come.
Trauma-Informed Care FAQs
What is trauma?
Trauma occurs when a person feels intensely threatened by an event he or she is involved in or witnesses.
What are the different types of trauma?
Some traumatic events occur at a particular time and place and are usually short–lived. But for many foster children, exposure to traumatic events occurs repeatedly over an extended period of time. These ongoing traumatic situations might include: physical and/or sexual abuse, domestic violence, and unstable and unsafe living situations.
What is Child Traumatic Stress (CTS)?
Child traumatic stress can happen when children are exposed to one–time traumatic events or ongoing traumatic situations. Traumatic reminders may trigger intense emotions related to the traumatic events, overwhelming their ability to cope with what they have experienced.
What is the effect of trauma on children?
Trauma affects a child’s ability to regulate emotions. Sometimes emotional responses can feel more intense, and be harder to regulate, for children who have been traumatized. Sometimes their behaviors are actually attempts to handle these intense feelings.
What triggers inappropriate behaviors in children with CTS?
The social environment is a big part of what leads kids to have intense emotional responses. Reminders of past or ongoing traumatic experiences can quickly catapult a child into a different emotional state, making emotions more intense and harder for the child to manage. Traumatic reminders can lead to changes in how a child feels, acts, and relates to those around him.
How does trauma affect a child’s perception of their external environment?
Children who have experienced trauma have difficulty perceiving the world around them in a realistic manner. They may overestimate the risk in daily life, and then avoid people, places, and things that might remind them of past or ongoing trauma. Yet they may also underestimate the risk in certain activities and put themselves in dangerous situations. Additionally, traumatized children have trouble envisioning their future, which limits their ability to develop life goals.
What can be done to help children who have experienced trauma?
Children who express inappropriate behaviors in response to traumatic stress need help in learning other ways of handling and conveying their emotions. Trauma–informed care is aimed at helping children learn to control their emotional responses to traumatic reminders.
What is Trauma Systems Therapy?
Trauma Systems Therapy (TST) is a trauma–informed care model developed by Glenn Saxe of the Boston University Medical Center. The Foster In Texas (FIT) program of Lutheran Social Services has adopted the TST model to help foster children and families experiencing problems related to child traumatic stress. TST helps by simultaneously giving children and families better ways to regulate emotions, as well as decreasing traumatic reminders in the social environment. TST involves a whole treatment team, including the family, caseworkers, mental health professionals, teachers, and others, working together with a commitment to help the traumatized child.
How does trauma-informed care benefit foster parents?
Trauma–informed policies and services work for both the child in need and for the provider or foster parent. By attending training on trauma–informed care, you will be better equipped to care for the children placed in your home, and health risk behaviors that stem from unaddressed trauma may be prevented. When children express inappropriate trauma–related behaviors, trained foster parents can help them deal with their traumatic stress in new, more appropriate ways. With trained foster parents as integral members of the foster child’s whole treatment team, the child has the best chance of reaching his or her full potential.
What Our Foster Parents Say
“I can honestly agree with the other participants [in the Trauma-Informed Care Conference] that this should be a training that all foster parents should be exposed to, in order to give us a better understanding of what to expect and how to approach unforeseen situations.” – Fidela Hinojosa
“The Trauma Conference and your Clinical Care Director opened our eyes. He taught us many things that will help us when we foster/adopt or adopt. We were oblivious to many of the situations that can present themselves. We found that many of the things that we take for granted need to be discussed with a foster child before they are done, like asking if it is OK to give them a hug or say, “I love you.” This experience has helped us further understand what it means to be a foster or adoptive parent.”
– Rogelio and Melissa Lozano
“We were very impressed with the wonderful trauma training you provided us. We look forward to another conference like this one, twice a year or more. We foster parents work hard for the children and would like more trainings like this to help the kids in our care.” – Dario and Betty Garza